NIL has changed the world of college sports. While much has been said about the positives of NIL, one Texas A&M starter has a different opinion.
Wide receiver Ainias Smith was recently asked about the cause of the team’s struggles in 2022, and the receiver pointed to NIL deals as one factor.
“It was a lot of individualism coming into A&M. A lot of people that are coming now that are getting recruited are so big on NIL,” explained Smith. “You know, parents are looking for NIL deals or whatnot and a lot of people then were just so fixated on me, me, me, and wanted to get things done for them and not necessarily a team thing.”
Smith is entering his fifth season with the Aggies in 2023. The receiver came down with 15 catches for 291 yards in 2022 on an anemic A&M passing offense.
The Aggies had a disappointing 5–7 record in 2022 after many pundits expected the team to be a playoff contender. While the team underperformed in almost every way, Smith clearly thinks that individualism was a key factor.
Texas A&M had one of the best recruiting classes of all time in 2022, bringing in eight five-stars and 20 four-stars. Smith stated that the team “didn’t come together,” and instead was focused on individual accomplishments. This is a damning statement from a starting player and he could have a point.
One thing to consider, however, is being on a losing team dampens NIL value. The top five players in current NIL valuations all play for either a historic program or a program that is expected to compete in 2023. Even in the NIL era, players benefit most when their team thrives.